The ever-charming Wisteria Jane embarks on her second adventure in BINGO DID IT, published by the educational publisher, Redleaf Lane. I absolutely adore this series about a spunky little girl who walks to the beat of her own drum. She’s sometimes sweet, sometimes sour, but always entertaining. You’ll fall in love with Wisty as she learns some of life’s simple, but important lessons. It’s a great family read. And the illustrations by the amazing Ard Hoyt are to die for!
Author Amber Harris has a special knack for creating characters with a whole lot of charm, and sending them on adventures that help educate kid readers on how to make positive behavioral decisions. Amber is such an incredible woman, professional and author–I am always so impressed with her! Just like Wisteria Jane, she’s a force to be reckoned with! Look out for more fun with Wisteria Jane–she’ll be embarking on her third adventure next year.
Here’s my interview with Amber:
What inspired you to create the Wisteria Jane series?
During my graduate program, I had the opportunity to work closely with children on the autism spectrum. One of the struggles I faced as an educator was finding picture books that taught clear and concise social skills. There were amazing books about social skills, but the reader was expected to “read into” the overall story and find an almost hidden message. For neurotypical children, these books are amazing. For kids on the autism spectrum, these books are not useful tools. I decided that if I couldn’t find the books I was looking for, I would go ahead and write them. The series I’ve written works for any parent or teacher who wants to teach social skills or character building to the children in their lives. Both neurotypical kids and children on the spectrum can benefit from these books.
What was your favorite part about writing the books in series?
I absolutely love diving into the world of Wisteria. It is a blast to walk back into childhood and view the world the way a young child does. I have a nine-year-old daughter who makes this process a whole lot easier. She is a spicy little lady with opinions galore. Her personality is absolutely reflected in Wisteria’s character. It’s probably why I truly love Wisty so much. She is a real person to me. This probably makes me sound crazy, but it’s the truth.
What was your least favorite part about writing?
My least favorite part of writing is the waiting between the time the manuscript is completely edited and when the art work is finished. I’m not the world’s most patient individual, and the art takes time. Ard Hoyt’s illustrations are so amazing that it makes waiting really hard. I thought I would get better at waiting as each book comes out, but I am actually getting worse. Gah!
Where and when do you write?
I have an office, but don’t usually end up working in there. I love to grab my laptop and curl up in a pile of pillows on my bed to write. I’ve been a bedroom writer since I was little. When I was younger, I did my writing on a yellow legal pad while sprawled out on my bed. It seems like the natural place to write. It’s where I do most of my dreaming and feels like the perfect spot to put those dreams down on paper.
What was the most surprising part about the editorial process?
I was shocked at how much I love this part of the process. I have an amazing editor who is absolutely a joy to work with. I love the back and forth of ideas that comes with the editorial process. I’ve always loved team work, and having someone who loves these books as much as I do makes every interaction a blast.
Who are some writers who inspire your work?
I am a book junkie and love so many different authors. Emmy Payne’s Katy No Pockets was one of my favorites for years. Robert McCloskey’s work is probably my all-time favorite. Blueberries for Sal was a book I checked out from the Nichols Library over and over. Picture books are good for the soul. They inspire dreams and ideas in a way that no other format offers.
What advice can you give to aspiring children’s book writers?
If you have a story to tell…tell it. The path to publishing can be a tough one, but it is worth every bump in the road. There will never be too many picture books, and each author’s take on a subject is going to be different. If there is a story inside your heart you should share it with the world and see how many children you can inspire to dream.
Learn more about Amber at www.amberbharris.com.